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Internet Safety for Families
Hey, let's be safe out there!
October is CyberSecurity Awareness Month, but it's always a good time to be an educated and aware user of technology.

As an example, we have had some of our users get an alert from a web site about a virus on your computer.  This is a malicious web site and the information is completely false but they want you to call them and give them money so they can 'help' you with your computer.  Please remember that we would never contact you this way or request any money at all (although we do need to plan for retirement :-) and you should ignore anything you feel might be suspicious and report it to your school technology staff if you're concerned.

To help everyone with some tips and tricks for being an aware, skeptical, critical thinking technology user we'd like to offer the following links that are full of resources for you to use yourself, or to share with others.  Each of you is a target by those that would like to use your information or your identity to take advantage of you or your finances.  Don't be a victim!  Learn how to use technology safely and securely.  You are never too young or too old to learn to protect yourself while still getting all of the benefits available from the technology you are surrounded by.



Stop.Think.Connect


Department of Homeland Security

Resources for Students:

Resources for Parents and Educators:

District SafeKids Page:





Current advancements in technology (including the Internet) bring out the best and the worst in all of us. Many of us know that technology is a tool, and only a tool, and as such it is neither good nor bad in and of itself. However, tools can be used for good and for bad by people. Tools can also be dangerous to those who do not know how to use them safely.

We are all concerned about the safety of our students, families, children and friends. For this reason it is important that we each learn how to use technology (and specifically the Internet) safely.

There is an overwhelming amount of positive information on the Internet for us to access which can help educate and enrich our students, but we must learn how to safely navigate to those resources.

It would be difficult to put all of the best practices on this page so we will instead list some of the more important points to remember and provide a list of some excellent resources for parents and students.

Top Internet Safety Tips

Be involved in your child's life and their Internet use.
You should know whom they interact with online, just as you know whom they play with in the neighborhood and at school. The recent public service ads concerning drug and alcohol use are right on target with their message. Be involved in your kids' lives. Know where they are going, whom they are with and when they'll be back. The same applies to online use: Be aware of their activities and be involved. They should be communicating with people you know and approve of. Hopefully you're creating an open dialogue with your children at a young age, and you're working to keep that dialogue active as they grow up. It's much easier to start that way than to try and make up for years of isolating when you finally decide to be involved in what they are doing.

Get the computer into a public area of the house.
Just moving the computer into an area where those who pass through the room can see the monitor will make a huge difference in your family's Internet use. It may seem as though you are helping your child with their homework requirements by providing computer access in their bedroom, but in addition to the risk of dangerous Internet behavior, recent research has shown that the sleep habits of kids are greatly improved when electronic devices (phone, TV, computer, video games, etcÖ) are removed from the bedroom. Sleep cycles of teenage kids are already in a state of disarray and when you encourage behavior other than sleeping in the bedroom this deteriorates more. Getting enough sleep and being well rested are key factors in student success. You get two benefits by removing computers from bedrooms. Take advantage of this opportunity.

Do not ever give out personal information about your child or allow them to do so.
Personal information includes their name, address, phone number, and photograph. Information given out on the Internet, via web pages, chats or e-mail, is like a bullet from a gun. Once you've pulled that trigger, there is no way to get the bullet back. After you've given information to someone online you have no control over where that information ends up. You don't own it anymore - it's free for the giving by whomever you've provided it to.

Help create your children's screen names and avoid anything that will reveal their age, gender, location, etc.
Avoid all suggestive terms or sexual connotations; they are magnets for online predators. You want your child to 'own' their screen name or login ID, so let them be creative with it, but be involved to make sure it does not draw the wrong kind of attention.

Take advantage of technological tools to safeguard your family.
There are three main types of tools you should investigate. Monitoring and filtering software, both readily available for all modern operating systems, and child safe search engines. Monitoring tools allow you to view and review all activity on your computer, from screen shots taken at regular intervals to transcripts of all chat and e-mail messages. Filtering software prevents access to content, applications and material that you wish to block for individual users of the computer. These tools are not intended to replace parental supervision or internet user education.

Create separate accounts for each family member.
This provides you with several useful outcomes. One is that your user accounts won't be administrative accounts and thus cannot inadvertently, or maliciously, damage the operating system or important files.



The Internet can open many doors and provide useful information for children. An aware and informed parent can help keep children safe.  Recent studies, including the most extensive study of U.S. teens to date, are showing that spending time online is not a waste of time for teens.

Please be involved in your students' lives, especially their online life. The more you know and show that you care, they more they will respond positively to their own environments. Remember that even adults are taken advantage of on the Internet, your children need to be educated in the correct Internet behaviors.

Online Resources


Digital Media and Learning

NetSmartz Workshop

iKeepSafe

SafeKids

Connect Safely

Polly Klaas Foundation Internet Safety

Internet Safety Technical Task Force

The Safe Side (general safety for kids, highly recommended)

Family Contract for Online Safety

Internet Safety at KidsHealth

Parents' Guide at Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

ProtectKids

WiredSafety

WiredSafety's TeenAngels

SafeTeens




Monitoring and Filtering Software

We do not recommend or endorse one product over another, you will need to evaluate them yourself for features, price, ease of use and compatibility with your own system). These are not intended as a replacement for parental supervision and internet user education.


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